As active addicts many of us had friends who were that in name only. Our mutual interests in acting out, trying to prolong our adolescence, and using each other for one end or another were often the sole basis of those “friendships.” How many of our using buddies tried to encourage us to continue our addictive behavior? “Hey, everyone does it!” “Oh, you’re not that bad.” “You just need to ____. You don’t have to ____!” Any of those sound familiar?
And just as tellingly, how many of our willing partners in excess stuck with us when we showed that we were serious about changing? Not too many, I’m guessing. Continue reading →
It seems that addicts, especially in early recovery, are exceptionally inclined to find fault with other entities, whether people or organizations. This is especially true early on when we’re in denial about most everything and our fellowships are beginning to strip some of it away as we kick and scream. But it’s also true about the world at large, and not only those of us who admit to addictions are guilty. Psychologists believe this is partially because it enables people to feel better about themselves, but also due to the human tendency toward binary thinking: wrong v. right, good v. bad, black v. white, our tribe v. them, our warriors (teams) v. theirs, and so forth.
Binary/black and white kinds of thinking may come from upbringing by caregivers who thought that way, religious influences, our desire–perhaps need–to believe we are superior to others and counteract our own doubts, or other reasons. Actually, regardless of the reasons, we’re stifling our ability to understand others and broaden our own horizons. Continue reading →
Pay no attention to the faults of others, things said or left unsaid by others, things done or left undone by others. Consider only what by oneself is said or left unsaid, done or left undone. ~ The real* Buddha
*At least three-quarters of the sayings you see posted on the Web and attributed to "Buddha" are treacly New Age verses with his title attached by someone who wanted to make it look more important. When you see an attribution here, it's taken from a direct translation of the Buddhist Canons or another reputable source. Same goes for The Dalai Lama.
Am I doing the “next right thing” as consistently as possible, without expecting recognition or reward, or do I expect to be praised and paid in some way for everything I do?
Intentions are important, because they tell us much about ourselves. Am I a needy person who constantly seeks approval? Am I always looking for ways to make myself look important–to improve my image? (In whose eyes?) Is doing good things part of my addict con job, or am I cultivating the humility and good character that come from plodding on without glory, with only the satisfaction that comes from knowing that I’m doing the best I can?
It’s worth thinking about. I’m the only one who can know my true intentions, and so I’m the only one who can make changes. Or not.
Integrity is doing the right thing when no one is watching.
Charlie the cat is long and lean
The color of the night
And his eyes are green
He likes to snuggle…*
Charlie, being Charlie
With Charlie, snuggling is a fairly formalized proposition. If he doesn’t invite himself, I do so by patting the bed next to me three times. He then waits what he considers an appropriate time–varying from a few seconds to a couple of minutes–to demonstrate that he is, indeed, his own cat and not responding to any orders. Then he hops up and walks back and forth a few times, purring. My position has to be just right; if not, he waits until I’ve completed my part of the ritual. Then he curls up so that his rear feet and head are in one of my hands, his body firmly pressed against my other arm and chest. Purring ensues, usually tapering off into little snores.
I recently changed my morning reading habits a bit. For the past few years I’ve been depending mostly on meditation books that were broken down into relatively small pieces, and reading other inspirational (or whatever) books in larger chunks.
This year I picked out two books in addition to the one I’ve been using for a couple of years–books not laid out in a daily reading format–and determined to treat them the same way, taking them in small, easily digestible chunks and then meditating on those readings, instead of trying to cram my head full as has been my habit for most of my life.
I read a few pages at most, stopping at what seems a reasonable point. Sometimes I read only a few paragraphs; on one occasion, only a couple of sentences. I find that I’m getting far more out of the basic text of one of my fellowships, for example, than I ever got when reading a chapter at a time. Cutting it into small chunks makes it far easier to digest and see how it applies to me. It seems that I do better with less to think about, rather than more; with small ideas, rather than big chunks. (In fact the eating/chewing/digesting analogy seems to fit perfectly, now that I think of it.)
This leads me to a problem that I’ve had with “big book” and similar meetings since back in the Dark Ages. Continue reading →